Just Holding the Line
Arrowverse 2021 Season: Week 2
Not much is changed this week in the ArrowverseWhen it was announced that the CW was creating a show based on the Green Arrow, people laughed. The CW? Really? Was it going to be teen-oriented like everything else on the network and be called "Arrow High"? And yet that one show, Arrow has spawned three spin-offs, various related shows and given DC a successful shared universe, the Arrowverse on TV and streaming.: we're still airing only one series -- Batwoman -- as we wait for the rest of the shows to start back up in the middle of February. We have thoughts on this strategy from the CW, which we'll cover below, but for now it's a quick week as we have just one episode to cover.
So let's talk about the new Caped Crusader in her second week on the job:
Batwoman, Season 2, Episode 2: Prior Criminal History
Last week our new Batwoman, Ryan Wilder, fought Tommy Elliot (aka Hush, although for the last week he was parading around with Bruce Wayne's face instead) before returning the suit to the Batcave for safe keeping. We knew it would only be a matter of time before she suited up again; the show needs a Batwoman, and Ruby Rose left the part so that only leaves one person for the job. And so, of course, escalating tensions with Alice force out new heroine back out on the streets as the protector of Gotham and, well, not a lot else happened.
While I enjoyed the episode in the moment -- Alice, as always, is fun to watch because actress Rachel Skarsten invests so fully in chewing the scenery -- but on the whole I have to admit the fun was fleeting at best. The fact is that this show is taking the loss of Ruby Rose's Kate Kane very hard and seems crippled about what to do about it. I think the issue stems from the fact that the producers (maybe due to demands from the network on high) elected to cast a new character in the role of Batowman instead of just slapping a new actress into the role of Kate Kane.
The latter just requires maybe an off-hand comment about, "you do something new with your hair, dead sister?" while the former, a whole new character, requires them to explain the character, to give her a backstory, to explain how she's going to fit into the scope of the show. For a character like Kate Kane, who was integral to every relationship, heroic or villaious, on the show, that's tough to replace. Ryan, for all the interesting things they can do with her character -- she's a homeless Black woman who was framed for a crime she didn't commit and the plead down the case so she didn't spend 15 years in prison, now living homeless on the street -- the fact is that Ryan doesn't have the same deep connections to the lore of the show Kate had.
That leaves Ryan always feeling like a character one step removed from the action. She has to learn about the relationships of everyone else -- Alice being Kate's sister, Jacob (leader of the Crows) being Kate's father, Bruce not only being Kate's cousin but also Batman -- and it forces the show to do a lot of padding and table setting right when it needs to ramp up the action and keep moving. Alice is a supervillain that has had a year to prepare for whatever she's going to do next. But, instead, she's sitting around, waiting for the heroine to catch up just so the show can start plotting again. It's not working.
I'm clearly not the only one to feel that way, either, as the ratings for the show took a severe hit last week (not only in comparison to the series premiere a year prior but also to the previous few episodes from last season) and were down slightly more this week. There are already rumors swirling about the network yanking the show soon. Heck, in a sign of the lack of confidence the CW has on Batwoman, the planned crossover between the show and Superman and Lois has been cancelled. That would be the one thing that could have boosted the ratings -- the CW crossovers always bring in the eyeballs -- but that's off the table now.
I think we need to consider what kind of future to expect for the show. Even if it gets its plotting back on track, not a lot of people are likely to tune in for it (these shows always take their hardest dip mid-season, so Batwoman isn't likely to pull up in the ratings anytime soon). The show will be lucky to make it to the season finale without getting cancelled. Even now, a third season seems unlikely, although this is the CW, where they renew just about everything, so strange things have happened...
Elsewhere in the 'Verse
- Instead of the Superman/Batwoman crossover now we're getting some kind of meetup between Stargirl and the rest of the 'verse. Considering the CW has taken over this DC Universe show, that makes sense and I've sure we'll get more crossovers between our main heroes and the Jr. Justice League after this.
- For now, though, we're still waiting for anything else to come back. That leaves us covering Batwoman for the next little while (at least until the CW yanks the show for reruns of Everwood).